SAAEA’s eighth conference kicks off in Windhoek

WINDHOEK: The eighth Southern Africa Association for Education Assessment (SAAEA) conference started in the capital on Monday.

The three-day conference is being hosted under the theme ‘Educational assessment and evaluation in diversity’, and ends on Wednesday.

In his keynote address at the official opening of the event, Education Minister David Namwandi said the theme has momentous value with regards to education practices in the world, and particularly to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

“The region faces many issues which threaten to increase the disparities within our nations, and in fact, the disparities in our communities have the potential to threaten the success of our national educational goals,” he stated.

Namwandi said it is thus vital that debates about the provision of quality education for all are engaged in.

“It is vital that we put our heads together in order to work out ways to develop and grow within our diversity, while embracing similarities and protecting culture and traditions,” he noted.

Debates about educational assessments and their outcomes are also needed, while best practices and bad experiences within the educational assessment arena need to be shared.

The conference aims to provide a forum for the exchange of best practices in assessment, curriculums and research in education; promote co-operation among educational assessment agencies within the SADC region; and to encourage and facilitate dialogue amongst member states and institutions concerning educational assessment issues.

Discussions at the conference will focus on quality assessments for all and multi-culturalism, conflict between assessments and other related policies in education as well as socio-economic challenges.

Over 3 000 academics, assessment specialists, educators, teachers, students, scholars, curriculum developers, school inspectors and researchers from southern Africa are attending the conference.

They are from hosts Namibia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Swaziland and Lesotho as well as the United Kingdom (UK).

Also speaking at the official opening, SAAEA chairperson Dr Lits’abako Ntoi congratulated Namibia for hosting the conference this year.

Ntoi said experience has taught them that hosting a conference of such magnitude is an arduous task, which requires both unparalleled astuteness and decisiveness to ensure success.

She noted that SAAEA has to date been able to achieve milestones which have contributed positively to Lesotho’s education landscape, where the seventh conference was held.